I have been away from the blog-o-sphere for a while now – traveling, exploring, learning, living and loving. It has been a wild journey filled with mountains and valleys, but I have to admit I feel as though I have come to the other side refreshed and renewed. Now, I am ready to share just a few of the lessons I learned during my hiatus.
- If you can believe it, you can envision it. If you can envision it, you can achieve it.
In 2017, I had the great privilege of receiving an award that allowed me to explore Japan, all expenses paid. Those who know me knew of my ardent desire to travel to Japan and immerse myself in its rich history and culture. And, of course, indulge in its delicious cuisine.
A few years prior to 2017, I had attempted to plan a trip to Japan. I was young and slightly impatient (side note: young and impatient are not synonymous here) and felt the urge to break out of the bubble I was living in. I was ambitious, but also naive about what it would take to materialize this venture. Slowly, I saw this dream crumble before my eyes and it was not just saddening, but highly frustrating. I felt as though the moment I conceptualized an idea or dream, I had to materialize it instantly, which in reality does not always occur. This really hammered my self-esteem and I decided to put this dream (along with some of my other dreams) on the back burner so I could continue participating in the rat race we call life.
The years passed, I continuously dreamt about Japan. I would see Japanese movies and anime. I would occasionally visit Japanese restaurants. It was as though my mind was calling out to the universe, telling it that I was ready. One day, I sat comfortably in the corner of my room watching From up on Poppy Hill – a beautiful anime movie by Studio Ghibli. The story was set in Yokohama Port in 1963. I was enamored by its beauty. At the end of the film, I couldn’t stop talking about it. I told my parents and a few close friends that it would be a dream come true to visit this city someday and overlook the port.
After a few days, I received an email in my inbox. The email called out students who were keen on representing the university and the country on a cultural exchange to – you wouldn’t believe it – JAPAN! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I took my glasses off and gave it a little wipe – and, nope, I wasn’t imagining things. This was real!
Then, as is always the case, self-doubt – my friendly foe – crept in. It listed all the reasons why I would never get an opportunity like this. “I wasn’t good enough,” it said. When my parents heard about the email, they pushed me to apply right away. “It has always been your dream to go to Japan. You won’t know unless you try,” they said.
Lo and behold, June 2017, I was in Japan! I was able to check off everything I wanted to do from visiting Mt Fuji and Matsumoto Castle, traveling across Kamakura to eating with chopsticks in a traditional Japanese restaurant in Fuchu. But, most definitely, one of the greatest moments of my life had to be when I traveled alone (with very little Japanese speaking ability) to Yokohama and saw the town hall and the port. I was living my dream! I was inside my dream! I was extremely grateful!
2. Don’t be afraid to RISE at your own pace. It takes courage to believe and determination to pursue your dreams!
I am an ambitious person. I guess I have always been, but I didn’t always like this trait about myself. Of course, I cannot say the same thing now.
I have never liked comparing myself to people. I always believed it took the attention away from realizing my own gifts and talents as well as that of others. I think the culture we live in today makes it seem as though there are not enough opportunities for everyone out there and that is wrong!
In all honesty, I do not think I was ready to go to university at 19. There, I said it! But, that is what I, at 19, was expected to do – attend university straight out of high school. I know that once I graduate, there will be an expectation to get a job promptly, preferably in my field of study. Then, there will be an expectation to find love and raise a family. The pressure is immense – to follow this path to the tee. I felt so bad for wanting something else out of my life, for myself.
In 2015, I made the decision to take a gap year. It was daunting – to do something contrary to the norm, yet so satisfying. This was the year that my career as a motivational speaker really took off. I received so many opportunities in different fields. I found myself breaking free from all my self-imposed limitations, yet I had this fear of talking about my decision of taking a gap from study. I didn’t want to be judged, which invariably happens. And, most importantly, I did not want to be labelled any particular way so I remained mum, as much as I could.
In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t. I know today that it is okay to want something different out of your life, for yourself. People will have a thousand opinions. They will have something to say when you are “unsuccessful” and they will also have something to say when you are successful. So, your best bet is to stay true to yourself and your dreams. You are better off pursuing your dreams with passion, integrity, and determination. You can never go wrong if you do!
And, if you need a break to revive yourself, re-find your passion then there is no harm in that either. You will only come back ready, and stronger than before.
“Live life like everything is rigged in your favour” – Rumi
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